The Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) has insisted on the immediate and unconditional implementation of the approved Consultation Cadre Circular of Pharmacists in all federal health institutions (FHIs) before it called off the ongoing indefinite strike.
The union’s vice chairman, Dr. Ogbonna Chimela, who explained some of the reasons the professionals under the auspices of the JOHESU) and Assembly of Healthcare Professional Associations (AHPA) embarked on the indefinite strike, decried what he described as “disgraceful methodology” with which Physicians with the support of the Health Ministers have suppressed efforts of non-physician health professionals to diversify and expand their knowledge.
In a statement made available to journalists in Abuja yesterday, he said, ‘’One of the areas that has showcased the reign of tyranny of Physician – Health Minister in contemporary times is the disgraceful methodology with which they have suppressed every attempt of non-physician health professionals to diversify and expand their knowledge base by refusing to accord them recognition when they bag Post-graduate Degrees and Fellowship,’’ he said.
“In 2021, the minister of health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, gave directives to the UCH, Ibadan Board to terminate the Consultant status of all non-physician health professionals.’’ He explained that the ‘’Pharmacists went through the entire gamut of due process having secured approvals of the National Council on Establishment as far back as 2011 for their consultant cadre.
“In 2020 and 2021, official circulars were issued from the Office of the Head of the Civil service of the Federation (OHCSF) who is also a Physician and the Federal Ministry of Health through its immediate past Permanent Secretary who was rated as one of the most seasoned bureaucrats of his generation to further boost the Consultant cadre in pharmacy practice,” he said.
According to Chimela, “The Niger State government introduced the consultant cadre in pharmacy practice as far back as 2013. Other states such as Edo and Osun have followed suit. Two pharmacist consultants were appointed at the Aso Rock Villa Clinic in May 2023.”
He noted with regrets that Enahire had conformed with the precedence of the inglorious era of Prof. Christian Chukwu and Prof. Isaac Adewole to insist that only physicians can be consultants in federal health institutions by issuing a ridiculous Circular through the infamous Department of Hospital Services that ties the appointment of Pharmacists Consultants to vacancies which must be created by the Federal Ministry of Health.’’
He declared that ‘’JOHESU/AHPA has critically appraised this development and moving forward demand in tune with the official circulars for consultant cadre in pharmacy practice in the public sector, that all the federal health institutions must appoint at least 15 pharmacists consultants in each teaching hospital, while the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) and its equivalents must have at least 10 pharmacist consultants.’’
He decried social injustice and discriminatory adjustment by the Federal Ministry of Health in favour of physicians and to the disadvantage of other health workers. Chimela, while declaring the commencement of the indefinite strike, also highlighted the failure of the Federal Government to adjust the Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS) for health workers, as was done with the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) for physicians.
JOHESU/AHPA called for the immediate approval and Implementation of the Technical Committee report on CONHESS adjustment by the government. He demanded the payment of all withheld salaries of its members in Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Owerri, Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH), Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH); outstanding April and May 2018 salaries of members in Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Azare and payment of health workers excluded in the payment of new hazard allowances.
Declaring the indefinite strike, “It becomes imperative to inform you that since the federal fovernment is yet to meet these demands, our members have been directed by the JOHESU National Executive Council (NEC) to proceed on an indefinite strike upon the expiration of the ultimatum by mid-night of May 25.